Boys and the Gender Wars
During the year that the film was in production interest in boys’ development has blossomed. New books, notably Michael Gurian's The Wonder of Boys, James Garabino's Lost Boys and Christina Hoff Sommer's The War Against Boys have all been published. The latter, excerpted in the May 2000 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, takes issue with the “feminists” in the boys’ movement, like Pollack and Thompson.
There are also ongoing, heated debates about whether the feminist movement has engendered a “war on boys” and thus endangered natural male development (cf. “The Battle Over Boys” in the New Yorker, 7/10/00). Other experts are debating with the proponents of moral training whether primary emphasis should be placed on boys’ emotional literacy or in providing moral structure and education.
Boys Will Be Men takes a pragmatic stance, extracting useful information from both sides of the debate, while steering clear of the more heated gender battles. As Michael Thompson concludes, near the end of the film: “The greatest thing that feminism did for girls was to say there are many different ways to be a woman. We have to show boys that there are many many many different ways to be a man.”